Charity Ngilu, one of the three newly elected women governors.

According to the IEBC, Uhuru Kenyatta is beating Raila Odinga by 9.5% or over 1.4 million votes. Rather than concede defeat, Raila has announced that the tallying system has been hacked, using the passwords obtained by torture from the assassinated ICT acting director. The IEBC reported that there was an attempt to hack their system, but it failed. Raila claims that the NASA parallel voting system indicates that he won the election – but he offered no proof of this claim. Civil society organizations have already found numerous “mistakes” in the tallying. In response to Raila’s claims of inaccuracy in the tallying, the IEBC has said that they will investigate these claims by comparing the tallying with the official documents and allowing the agents of the presidential candidates to scrutinize the forms. This cooperation with those who are protesting is a welcome difference from the previous elections where complainers were frozen out of the verification process. There will have to be massive fraud for this to add up to 1.4 million votes. Note though, that unlike 2007, Raila has not asked his supporters to launch mass demonstrations in protest.

As a result of Raila’s announcement, youth have been demonstrating in NASA strongholds, particularly in the slums of Nairobi. They have blocked roads with stones and set old tires on fire. Already two youth have been killed in Mathare slum in Nairobi and another at a tallying center in Kisii. At least two of these were killed by police who, contrary to international law, were using live ammunition on the demonstrators. One of the dead youth was supposed to have been hit by a “stray bullet.” As an analyst for a TV station in Lagos, Nigeria, I was interviewed last night about the Kenyan election. Although there is much to say about this election, the TV presenters only asked me about the violence which at this time has been sporadic and easily contained by the police. I was disappointed, but this indicates the “sensationalism” of the media.

Kenyan elections are noted for defeating prominent politicians. This has occurred again in this election. The governor of Nairobi City, the second most powerful position in the country since 60% of the Kenyan GNP occurs in Nairobi, lost. He was an ODM (Raila’s party) member and he lost to the Jubilee Party (Uhuru’s party) candidate. Many governors were sent into “retirement” with less than one-third being re-elected. Senators, MP, women representatives, and members of the county assembly (MCA) received the same fate. In one extreme case 29 out of 30 MCAs in one county were defeated as was its governor — a major housecleaning which will hopefully alert politicians that they have to produce or will be fired.

In the last election all 47 governors were male – three women candidates were elected governor. Also in the last election all 47 senators were male, while this time three women have been elected senator. While this is progress at 6% of the seats, there is still a long distance to go before adequate female presentation occurs in Kenya’s government. Except for women’s representative, there were few candidates for the other positions (4% to 8%) and even fewer won.

John Paul Mwigiri, newly elected MP for Igembe South constitutency.

There were other interesting results. John Paul Mwirigi, a 23 year old college student from Meru, who campaigned on foot and bicycle as an independent candidate for MP, won. For us, one of the people who has been attending our workshops on Mt. Elgon won as member of the county assembly.  Our Lumakanda ward MCA results are interesting. There were 15 candidates and an independent and only female candidate won the seat.

The fate of all the independent candidates is also interesting. Many of the almost 4000 independent candidates were “vanity” candidates. Any candidate that received less than 1% or 2% can be considered a vanity candidate. The six other candidates for president all together totaled less than 1% of the vote. This seemed to be the case of the large majority of the independent candidates. In some cases losers in primary elections felt that they had been rigged out and then ran as independents. Most of these ended up losing again indicating that, no matter how badly the primary elections had been run by the political parties, they nonetheless reflected the will of the electorate. Some real independents did win – there are 2 governors, 0 senators, 1 women representative, and 15 MPs elected as independent candidates.

I am surprised at how decisive the voting has been. Most wins, for example like the presidential race, were by a substantial margin. There are very few races that were neck and neck with the difference between the top two candidates being less than 1%.

One of the issues in this election was whether it was better to have a consolidated political party such as Jubilee or a coalition of parties as in NASA. The verdict is clear: one consolidated political party is much preferred. Not only did Jubilee win the presidency but has a majority of one in governorships and women representative and less a majority of one in the senate. In some cases the NASA coalition parties ran candidates against each other which allowed Jubilee to win over the divided opposition.

The real victor in this election was the electoral system. If the system is neutral and unbiased, then the likelihood of tension, disputes, lack of credibility, and violence will be diminished if not eliminated. The IEBC – although they were sometimes forced by the opposition backed by the courts to do what they didn’t want to do – was much more transparent and open than in previous elections. The voter identification gadgets, unlike the last election, worked well with only a few glitches here and there. The cyber IT reporting system from the polling stations worked as expected. Results were announced regularly, if slowly, as they came in for the different positions. The results could easily be accessed on the internet and were reported by the media. As disputes arose, rather than act defensively and opaquely, this IEBC responded with openness and clarity. This greatly enhanced the credibility of their work and the results that they announced. Hopefully this will be carried over for the next election five years from now. So that the IEBC doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel next time, again hopefully they will also keep the gadgets and systems that worked well this election in safe places to be used again in the next election.

In conclusion, the general election was well done, if not yet perfect. Can this then become the norm for future Kenyan elections?

I’m relieved. I think most people in Kenya, except the losers and their close supporters, are also relieved.


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From 1998 to 2016, David Zarembka was the Coordinator of the African Great Lakes Initiative of the Friends Peace Teams. He continues his peacemaking work in East Africa with Transforming Communities for Social Change (TCSC) and Friends Church Peace Team (FCPT). He has been involved with East and Central Africa since 1964 when he taught Rwandan refugees in Tanzania. David is married to Gladys Kamonya and lives in western Kenya. David is the author of A Peace of Africa: Reflections on Life in the Great Lakes Region.



David Zarembka

Transforming Communities for Social Change (TCSC)

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